General Tips

General tips that I discover whilst using my Psion that I think may be of use to other users.

Contents

Using batteries.

NiMH rechargeable batteries last about 2/3 the time of alkalines before they need recharging, so they last almost as long and after a couple of months you will start to save money, as well as producing less waste.

If you have four rechargeables then you can carry a spare set, and as they can be charged in 3 hours it is quick to top them up when needed. Also, because they are so cheap once you have purchased them, then it's not at all painful to use them all the time, and dispense with the need for a mains adapter for your Psion.

Don't bother with NiCad rechargeables as they only last half as long, contain Cadmium, and suffer from the 'memory effect'.

Cleaning the screen.

Use a damp tissue that's been wiped once across a bar of soap to clean the screen, then use a dry tissue afterwards. The small amount of soap is enough to shift fingerprints and the like without been detrimental to the screen. (I've been doing this for a couple of years.)

Setting the screen contrast up correctly.

You may have noticed that the screen contrast 'drifts' as it warms up or the temperature of the environment changes. It is easy to adjust it to read text, however it can be difficult to adjust it for optimal viewing of graphics. You can do this via the control panel but I find this difficult to get right. And here's the tip...

A checker board pattern of black and light-grey pixels should look the same as a solid area of dark-grey if the contrast is right. Likewise, dark-grey and white checks are the same as solid light-grey. I use a picture (testcard.zip (1k)) that I made in sketch. Sample:

Testcard sample

The contrast is set correct when it appears that there are two wide stripes, rather than 4 narrower ones, between the solid black and solid white stripes.

Uninstalling programs.

If a program was installed on your machine by using a SIS file then it will appear in the Add/Remove list in the Control Panel and should be removed from there. However, if the program was installed by copying files into a folder in \System\Apps, there is a trick to successfully uninstalling it.

First you need to find the folder which contains the program; if the program is called 'ProgName' then this folder would be \System\Apps\ProgName. If this exists on both disks C and D then you want the one which contains a file called 'ProgName.app'.

Having found the correct folder you should rename it to a dummy name like 'XYZ'. Now bring up the extras bar an wait for the program's icon to disappear from it. You can now delete the folder which you renamed along with any folder on the other disk which had the same original name.

The program has now been removed. There may be other files that were not stored in the \System\Apps\ProgName folder, you can remove these if you know what they were. However, if they are in either the \System\OPX or \System\Libs folders then they may also be used by other programs, so be careful.

The above trick of renaming the program's folder before deleting it is necessary because otherwise the program's icon will remain on the extra's bar.

Organising the extras bar

The location of items on the extras bar can be changed by tapping its left side or from the Control Panel. If you use the former method then the new positions for icons do not get saved to disk, causing the changes to be lost if you do a soft reset. To prevent this; open the Extras Bar control in Control Panel the press the OK button, this will ensure any changes you have made will be saved.

If you wish to remove the icons for some little used built-in programs like Comms then see my NoExtras page.

Removing programs from the 'New File' dialogue

Some programs don't behave correctly and lie to the OS by saying they can create files when they can't. This causes them to appear in the list of programs when you select 'New File' on the system screen.

To prevent any programs from appearing you need to edit its AIF file that is in the program's folder in \System\Apps. Using a hex editor like my FileDump change the 8th byte from the end of the file, from a ONE to a ZERO.

Running the 5mx in 16 grey mode.

Introduction

The version of EPOC that comes on the 5mx now checks disks C and D for it's initialisation files when in reboots. This opens up the possibility of customising the machine; in particular the option of getting the 5mx to use 16 grey shades for the display.

The practical upshot of doing this is that you can have 16 grey shades in your wallpaper and all buttons and dialogs will no longer use dithering to achieve intermediate shades of grey. (Dithering is using 2 different shades in a checkerboard pattern to give the illusion of a shade in-between.)

Unfortunately all of the inbuilt programs store all of their graphics in 4 grey mode so they won't appear much different.

Another effect of running in 16 grey mode is that all Sketch pictures will be edited in 16 grey mode and saved as such, (though you can still only draw in 4 shades).

The downsides of running in 16 grey modes:

How to set 16 greys mode

The easy way is to copy the file wsini.ini into D:\System\Data on your 5mx. (If you can't see the System folder then you need to go into the Preferences menu under Tools in the system screen, and select 'Show System folder'.) You will now need to reboot the machine by doing a soft reset or using one of the reboot programs available.

The hard way of achieving 16 greys mode is to copy the file from the ROM disk Z and edit it. I shall assume that anyone who wants to do this knows the steps involved and will probably also want to experiment with other settings. :o)

To return to 4 grey shade mode; delete the wsini.ini file and do another reboot.

Important The ini file will have the same effect if it is put on disk C, however putting it on D is safer. This is because if the file is contains any errors then it is possible that your machine won't reboot properly and you could find yourself locked out. If this happens and the files are on disk D then you can simply remove the disk and reboot properly.

Producing 16 grey shade wallpaper

This requires the use of a MSDOS based tool called BMCONV.EXE. This was supplied on the CD for previous versions of PsiWin but seems to be missing from the one which comes with the 5mx. It is however in the file wvewavbmpconvutils.zip which can be downloaded from http://www.psion.com/downloads/pc/misc/

You will need to have the picture you wish to use for wallpaper in BMP format on a PC. Then from DOS convert it to an EPOC picture with 'BMCONV WallpaperName /4Picture.bmp' where WallpaperName is the name you want to call the wallpaper and Picture.bmp is the picture you want to use. (You will also need to add a path to Picture.bmp and BMCONV if they aren't in the current directory.)

Now copy the file WallpaperName over to your 5mx using PsiWin. The file should go into the folder \System\Wallpaper on either disk C or D. (If the folder doesn't exist then you will need to create it.)

You can now select this wallpaper for use in the normal way; from the Preferences menu under Tools in the system screen.